|Full name||Antonio Negri|
|Born||August 1, 1933
|School||Postmodern philosophy · Marxism · Postmarxism|
|Main interests||Political philosophy · Class conflict · Globalization|
|Notable ideas||Philosophy of globalization · multitude · philosophy of Empire|
Negri is perhaps best-known for his co-authorship of Empire and his work on Spinoza. Born in Padua, he became a political philosophy professor in his hometown university. Negri founded Potere Operaio (Worker Power) group in 1969 and was a leading member of the Autonomia Operaia. He was accused in the late 1970s of various charges including being the mastermind of the Red Brigades (BR), involved in the May 1978 assassination of Aldo Moro leader of the Christian-Democrat Party, among others. Negri was later cleared of any links with the BR. He was, however, tried and convicted of controversial charges, including "association and insurrection against the state", and indirect involvement in two murders. But Negri fled to France where, protected by the Mitterrand doctrine, he taught at the Université de Vincennes (Paris-VIII) and the Collège International de Philosophie, along with Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault and Gilles Deleuze. In 1997, he voluntarily returned to Italy to serve the end of his sentence. He now lives between Venice and Paris with his partner, the French philosopher Judith Revel.
Antonio (Toni) Negri was born in Padua, Italy in 1933. He began his career as a militant in the 1950s with the activist Roman Catholic youth organization Gioventú Italiana di Azione Cattolica (GIAC). He joined the Italian Socialist Party in 1956 and remained a member until 1963, while at the same time becoming more and more engaged throughout the late 1950s and early 1960s in Marxist movements.
He had a quick academic career at the University of Padua and was promoted to full professor at a young age in the field of "dottrina dello Stato" (State theory), a particularly Italian field that deals with juridical and constitutional theory. This might have been facilitated by his connections to influential politicians such as Raniero Panzieri and philosopher Norberto Bobbio, strongly engaged with the Socialist Party.
In the early 1960s Negri joined the editorial group of Quaderni Rossi, a journal that represented the intellectual rebirth of Marxism in Italy outside the realm of the communist party.
In 1969, together with Oreste Scalzone and Franco Piperno, Negri was one of the founders of the group Potere Operaio (Workers' Power) and the Operaismo (workerist) Communist movement. Potere Operaio disbanded in 1973 and gave rise to the Autonomia Operaia Organizzata (Organised Workers' Autonomy) movement.
On April 7, 1979, at the age of forty-six, Antonio Negri was arrested along with the other persons associated with the Autonomy movement (Emilio Vesce, Luciano Ferrari Bravo, Mario Dalmaviva, Lauso Zagato, Oreste Scalzone, Pino Nicotri, Alisa del Re, Carmela di Rocco, Massimo Tramonte, Sandro Serafini, Guido Bianchini, and others). Padova's Public Prosecutor Pietro Calogero accused those involved in the Autonomia movement of being the political wing of the Red Brigades and thus behind left-wing terrorism in Italy. Negri was charged with a number of offences including leadership of the Red Brigades, masterminding the 1978 kidnapping and murder of the President of the Christian Democratic Party Aldo Moro and plotting to overthrow the government. At the time, Negri was a political science professor at the University of Padua and visiting lecturer at Paris' École Normale Supérieure.
A year later, Negri was exonerated from Aldo Moro's kidnapping. No link was ever established between Negri and the Red Brigades and almost all of the charges against him (including 17 murders) were dropped within months of his arrest due to lack of evidence. Those who support the hypothesis of the Gladio organization being behind Aldo Moro's death see his arrest as an attempt to cover its hidden responsibilities. Negri was charged with association and insurrection against the state (a charge that was later dropped) and, in 1984, sentenced to 30 years in jail for "instigating" the murder of political activist Carlo Saronio, and having "morally concurred" in the shooting of caribiniere Lombardini during a failed bank robbery. Two years later he was sentenced to an additional four and a half years on the basis that he was morally responsible for acts of violence between activists and the police during the 1960s and 1970s largely due to his writing and association with revolutionary causes and groups. Throughout the 1980s Amnesty International drew attention to the "serious legal irregularities" in the handling of the Autonomia trials, specifically concerns over the holding of suspects for long periods without trial accompanied by long periods of judicial inactivity, the evasion of legal limits to preventive detention and the retroactive application of legislation to extend periods of detention, the lack of availability of a key prosecution witness (Carlo Fioroni), as well as potential threats to Human Rights posed by changes to Italian law. Regarding Negri himself, French philosopher Michel Foucault later commented, "Isn't he in jail simply for being an intellectual?" French philosophers Félix Guattari and Gilles Deleuze also signed in November 1977 L'Appel des intellectuels français contre la répression en Italie (The Call of French Intellectuals Against Repression in Italy) in protest against Negri's imprisonment and Italian anti-terrorism legislation.
In 1983, four years after his arrest and while he was still in prison awaiting trial, Negri was elected to the Italian legislature as a member for Marco Pannella's Radical Party. A parliamentary privilege that allowed Negri to leave prison in order to serve in an elected position was revoked by the Italian Chamber of Deputies a few months later. At this point, he went to France where he remained for 14 years, writing and teaching, protected from extradition in virtue of the "Mitterrand doctrine." His refusal to stand trial in Italy was widely criticized by Italian media and by the Italian Radical Party, who had supported his candidacy to Parliament .
In France, Negri began teaching at the Université de Paris VIII (Saint Denis) and the Collège International de Philosophie, founded by Jacques Derrida. Although the conditions of his residence in France prevented him from engaging in political activities he wrote prolifically and was active in a broad coalition of left-wing intellectuals. In 1990 Negri with Jean-Marie Vincent and Denis Berger founded the journal Futur Antérieur. The journal ceased publication in 1998 but was reborn as Multitudes in 2000, with Negri as a member of the international editorial board.
In 1997, Negri returned to Italy voluntarily to serve the remainder of his sentence (which had since been reduced on appeal to 17 years), in the hope that this act would raise awareness of the situation of hundreds of exiles and prisoners (including Adriano Sofri from Lotta Continua) involved in radical left political activities in Italy during the 1960s and 1970s, the so-called "Anni di Piombo" (Years of Lead). Negri was released from prison in the spring of 2003. "I am taking up my political work again starting from the ground up, from prison," said Negri, who wrote L'anomalia selvaggia and Empire in his prison time. "With my return, I would like to give a push to the generation that was marginalized by the anti-terrorist laws of the 1970s so that they will leave their internal or foreign exile and again take part in public and democratic life."
|Part of the Politics series on|
Among the central themes in Negri's work are Marxism, democratic globalization, anti-capitalism, postmodernism, neoliberalism, democracy, the commons, and the multitude. His prolific, iconoclastic, cosmopolitan, highly original and often dense and difficult philosophical writings attempt to reconcile critical terms with most of the major global intellectual movements of the past half-century in the service of a new Marxist analysis of capitalism.
Negri is extremely dismissive of postmodernity, whose only value, in his estimation, is that it has served as a symptom of the historical transition whose dynamics he and Hardt set out to explain in Empire. He acknowledges the influence of Michel Foucault, David Harvey's The Condition of Postmodernity (1989), Fredric Jameson's Postmodernism or the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism (1991) and Gilles Deleuze & Félix Guattari's Capitalism and Schizophrenia.
Today, Antonio Negri is best known as the co-author, with Michael Hardt, of the book Empire (2000). The thesis of Empire is that the globalization and informatization of world markets since the late 1960s have led to a progressive decline in the sovereignty of nation-states and the emergence of "a new form [of sovereignty], composed of a series of national and supranational organisms united under a single logic of rule." The authors call this new, global reconfiguration of sovereignty Empire. This shift both enacts and results from "the real [as opposed to formal] subsumption of social existence by capital," wherein there is no longer any "outside" to capital—everything is always already subsumed into the capitalist network. In order to resist and to oppose what they identify as the injustices resulting from this imperial sovereignty, the authors call for autonomous constitutive resistance epitomized by the Wobblies, the 1999 WTO protests in Seattle, and other loosely structured, autonomous resistance movements—what they call the multitude.
The book has had widespread influence in Europe, Asia, Australia and North America, but many activists and scholars have been critical of the work. It has inspired many initiatives including No Border network, Libre Society, KEIN.ORG, NEURO-networking europe, and D-A-S-H. A follow-up to Empire, called Multitude: War and Democracy in the Age of Empire, was published in August 2004. Unlike Empire, which was only published by Harvard University Press and was therefore targeted at a predominantly academic audience, the paperback edition of Multitude was released by Penguin Books and addresses a much less specialized readership. Whereas Empire, despite its explicit political orientation, is largely focused on describing the conditions of globalization, Multitude evinces a somewhat more activist bent than its precursor.
An alternative to the strictly political characterisations of Negri's project comes from a neoliberal critic, John J. Reilly, who calls Empire "a postmodern plot to overthrow the City of God." In fact, Negri's involvement in the early 1950s with the Catholic Worker Movement and liberation theology seems to have left a permanent mark upon his thought. One of his most recent works, Time for Revolution (2003), relies heavily on themes drawn from Augustine of Hippo and Baruch Spinoza and might be described as an attempt to found the City of God without the aid of the "transcendental illusions" and the "Theology of Power" that he finds in thinkers as disparate as Martin Heidegger and John Maynard Keynes, extending and attempting to correct the critique of ideology as false consciousness set forth by Karl Marx.
Now in his 70s, Negri continues to teach and write. He divides his time between Rome, Venice and Paris, where he delivers political seminars at the Collège International de Philosophie and the Université Paris I.
In March 2008, Antonio Negri, who had been incarcerated from 1997 to 2003, abandoned procedures to obtain a visa for entry into Japan where he planned to give lectures on labor and other issues at the International House of Japan in Tokyo, Kyoto University, and the University of Tokyo. The Immigrant Control and Refugee Recognition Law bans entry to Japan by a foreign national if he has been given a prison sentence of one year or longer, except for political prisoners.
Page numbers refer to the first Harvard University Press paperback edition, 2001, ISBN 0-674-00671-2.
Page numbers refer to the first British edition, Hamish Hamilton, 2005, ISBN 0-241-14240-7.
The following page numbers refer to the Penguin publication, 2005.
(a bricoleur is someone who constructs by piecing things together ad hoc, something like a handyman.)